Scientists from the Philippines and Hong Kong have been studying how the human eye works in order to improve optic health.

Credit: Jorge Royan

Our eyes work by way of a lens, mostly composed of protein and water, which projects the incoming light into the cells (retina) at the back of the eye ball which then send information to the brain to form a visual image. However, one function which is poorly understood is how the lens adjusts focus and Dr Fredgustso Guido David at the University of the Philippines Diliman is working to unravel this process known as accommodation.

Ciliary muscles, which encircle the lens, move the lens to help us focus on the desired object. Unlocking the secrets of accommodation will provide insights on how we could remedy eye ailments such as Presbyopia and on how we could help patients recover from procedures such as post-cataract surgery.

Another major eye related disorder is myopia, or short-sightedness. This causes blurry vision because the eye has grown too big and become out of focus and it has increased recently, affecting more than 80% of the young adult population in many Asian cities. It is also a growing public health issue since myopia is associated with a number of sight-threatening diseases such as glaucoma and retinal degeneration.

It is not known why and how we acquire myopia; both nature and nurture appear to play important roles. The goal of myopia research is to understand why the eye has grown excessively large and to find ways to stop the myopic eye growth. Over 20 years ago, PolyU’s Centre for Myopia Research took on the challenge of advancing basic understanding of the mechanism of eye growth and devising novel treatments for myopia.

Recently, their research identified new myopia genes and proteins that may be responsible for excessive eye growth. They discovered that the eye uses different optical images to guide its growth. In particular, images that focused in front of the retina can act as a “stop” signal of eye growth. Applying this principle, the Hong Kong researchers conducted a randomised control trial using a tailor-made contact lens that send out stop signals to the eye. The lens successfully slowed myopia progression by 50% in children.

For further information contact:

Professor To Chi-ho

The Centre for Myopia Research

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Email: chi-ho.to@polyu.edu.hk

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

 

Professor Carly Lam

The Centre for Myopia Research

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Email: carly.lam@polyu.edu.hk

 

Dr. Fredegusto Guido David

Institute of Mathematics, College of Science

University of the Philippines Diliman

E-mail: gdavid@science.upd.edu.ph